Student Loan Fraud Is Stupid
A former inmate at Leath, Correctional Institution in South Carolina, Michelle Owens, was sentenced on September 28, 2011 for violations of federal student financial aid and mail fraud.
Let me start this article off with a small tidbit of information for all of you scamming or thinking about scamming federal student financial aid – don’t. Not only is it dishonest and morally wrong but school systems are really cracking down on financial aid fraud. I take evening classes at a local institution and they have introduced a very strict attendance policy at the school.
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When I went to college years ago teachers were very relaxed about your attendance – if you showed up, you showed up. I was shocked to see my new classes introduce such harsh attendance policies. If you miss three days of class with unexcused absences you’re dropped – done – kaput. Why? Because so many “students” were defrauding financial aid loans. It’s really quite annoying that I’m now a grown woman being treated like a high school student in regards to my attendance at class because a few people feel like they have the right and bright idea to scam financial aid.
::Takes a deep breath:: And my rant is over.
Owens has been sentenced to 51 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $128,852. Owens submitted fraudulent Webster University applications and fraudulent Department of Education financial aid applications. She did so in the name of twenty-three different Leath, South Carolina Correction Institution inmates seeking admission and student loans of or around $467,500.
Apparently, while an inmate at Leath from December 2007 to September 2008 she worked in the prison’s Education Department where she had access to the personal information of other inmates.
According to court documents, from December 2007 to October 2009, Owens submitted online applications for admission to Webster University’s distance learning program in the names of individuals who were inmates at Leath without their knowledge. Owens intended to use the financial aid funds for improper non-education purposes. On those applications, Owens used several residential addresses located in South Carolina. Based upon the information contained on the applications, Webster University accepted the individuals and mailed the letters to South Carolina. Additionally, Owens falsely applied for federal student financial aid on behalf of the inmates by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) either by computer over the internet or by paper application using the inmates personal information. Once Webster University received the required supporting documentation, they created a financial aid package for that “applicant” and mailed the award notification to the same South Carolina addresses controlled by Owens.
Owens received the excess financial aid intended for the inmate “applicants” through Higher One, Inc. in the form of debit/MasterCard cards which she cashed or used for personal expenses totaling $124,821 – Source.
What she’ll scheme up this time while incarcerated is only a guess at this point in time…
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